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tv   Debt Ceiling Deficit Reduction  CSPAN  July 31, 2011 6:00am-7:00am EDT

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that we are in now. i recognize the president has now said that the debt limit is -- he made a mistake and he wouldn't have said that were he here today. my point, i would say to the senator from massachusetts, is that rhetoric two years ago was not considered extremist rhetoric and now that rhetoric, which by the way i have not found. i think it is a milgt. there may be a handful of building both in the house and senate perhaps that believe that the nation doesn't have to raise the debt limit. but by and large everyone recognizes that something must be done about the debt limit. what we have also said -- i speak for myself. let me not speak for any other member of this chamber or the next. what i have also said is that it would be a terrible mistake to lose this opportunity to do something meaningful about the debt. and that the debt limit gives us an opportunity to do something meaningful about the debt, because the crisis that america faces is not one that i have defined. but one that has been defined by the rating houses and rating agencies who have said if you do not get your spending in order,
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we don't care whj you raise your debt limit not, we wil downgrade you. that means an increase in every american's interest payments. mr. kerry: will the senator further yield? mr. rubio: yes. mr. kerry: i would just say first of all that everybody understands the danger of the rating agencies right now. the problem is, we got to reach across the aisle and negotiate. we've got to come to agreement. right now there's not a lot of negotiating going on. i would ask the senator, if he doesn't agree that there is an enormous difference between -- the senator a moment ago said if he had gotten his way. the whole point is, everybody knew he wasn't about to get his way. that was a truly symbolic vote. today, however, is it not true we are on the brink of a default and the absence of negotiation or the absence of a settlement presents us with a far more serious consequence to the unwillingness to raise the debt
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ceiling today? mr. rubio: to the senator from massachusetts i would say it's impossible to negotiate with someone who doesn't offer a plan. the finger pointing of who has a plan and who doesn't have a plan is relevant but it's not the central issue here. by also say in march of this year, march 30 of this year, i wrote an op-ed piece in "the wall street journal" and outlined the things i was looking for to be a part of this debate and i was told on march of this year that we didn't have enough time to do all those things, although later on we found out perhaps we did, this grand bargain and i am prepared, as i stand here today, if there is a meeting after this, i'd love to be a part of it. i would love to discuss the things we need to do not just to raise the debt limit. raising the debt limit is the easiest thing. that's one vote away. the hard thing is to show the world we are serious about putting our spending in order so we can show people we'll able to pay our bills down the road.
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and that is a combination of things that i have outlined very clearly, not just on march of this year in "the wall street journal," but in repeated speeches on this floor. and those are the things, we need to do two things. number one is we need to grow our economy because while the debt is the biggest issue in washington, jobs are the biggest issue facing america. and if we could get more people back to work, we would have more people paying taxes, and if we had more people paying taxes, we'd have more revenue for government. sos that the first thing we need to do is figure out how to create jobs in america and i think there is bipartisan agreement on things we dan do to do that. the president himself mentioned regulatory reform as a necessity in the state of the union. let's do it. we've all talked about tax reform. and if there are things in that tax code that do not belong there because they are the process of good lobbying instead of good policy, let's go after those things. let's talk about that. i think we all agree that there has to be some changes in discretionary spending but we also agree that doesn't solve the problem. that's a small piece of our overall budget that we have to
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save medicare because it goes bankrupt if we leave it the way it is. that we have to save medicaid because it goes bankrupt if we leave it the way it is. i can tell you that history will back up what i'm about to say and that is that there is no government run by conservatives, republicans, put whoever you want there, if you give government the opportunity to spend more money than it has, it will do it. it will do it every time. that's why i believe there are at least 20 members of the senate in the other party who have supported some version of the balanced budget amendment and yes it's something we cannot even get a vote on much less discuss in the senate. i believe there can be compromise on those outlines but here's the last thing i would say. my time is about to expire so let me close with this. compromise is fantastic. i would love nothing more than to leave this building tomorrow night having said the republic still works. i was able to stand shoulder to shoulder with people from states far from mine with views different from mine but who love their country so much we were able to come together and save
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it when it faced this catastrophe. i would love nothing more than compromise. but i would say to you that compromise, that's not a solution is a waste of time. if my house was on fire, i can't compromise about which part of the house i'm going to save. you save the whole house or it will all burn down. we either save this country or we do not. and to save it, we must seeky r. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. paul: the president has refused to take off the table the fact that we would gault dwawlt on our debt. that's irresponsibility and without a doubt the president should come forth and say he will pay the ierest on the debt. on our side we've been willing to compromise all along. we've been offering plans. we passed two plans in the house. now we have a plan before us, a democrat plan to raise the debt ceiling, and there are some of
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us who would vote for this democrat plan who might require some amendments or some compromise, it would have to be some input from our side. and yet even though this bill was introduced yesterday and republicans said they would vote for it, the democrats are now filibustering their own bill. what's funny, they filibuster their own bill and then point fingers and say we're trying to stop things. we're here today to try to move things forward and so in the spirit of trying to reach a compromise before the deadline comes, i would ask unanimous consent that the vote on the pending cloture motion occur immediately or as soon as ssible 5:00 p.m. today. the presiding officer: the gentlemanfrom illinois. mr. durbin: reserving the right to object. under the filibuster rules of the senate, there is a requirement of 60 votes for cloture. we have said that we are prepared to move to a timely vote on this pending amendment,
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a majority vote, the same as the vote that speaker boehner had in the house, and i would object unless the senator from kentucky wants to amend his unanimous consent request to make it clear that this will be a unanimous consent which i have spelled out here in detail if he'd like me to present it. mr. paul: reserving the right to object, i would remind the senator that there is a difference between the senate and the house. our founding fathers gave great power and leeway to the senate. we were meant to be a check and a balance against unbridled enthusiasm sometimes from one party or another, and so i would object to that motion. the presiding officer: is there objection to the original request? mr. durbin: object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. paul: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to present an amendment. this amendment would be an amendment to the reid bill, and under this amendment what would happen is i have a least 10
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republicans who will vote for the harry reid bill which would allow a compromise, which would allow the debt ceiling to rise. i know the president is worried about having campaign time. he's worried about getting back out and doing some fundraisers. he doesn't want to consider the debt ceili again before his election or his re-election campaign. so this amendment that i would offer would allow us to move forward in a bipartisan way. all republicans are asking for is that we balance our budget gradually over a seven to eight-year period. what this amendment what do and i'm asking unanimous consent to present is an amendment that says we will raise the debt ceiling contingent upon badge of a balanced budget amendment. by ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to present this amendment to the reid bill. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. durbin: mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. paul: see, what i think this illustrates is that, you
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know, compromise, everybody says the pundits say that compromise is the mark of an enlightened person. we're trying to compromise. i just offered to pass the leader's bill. i've offered to work with him i'm from the tea party. they say we won't compromise? i'm willing to raise the debt ceiling. in fact, we worked on a motion that got more votes than any other motion that's been set forward and that was cut, cap and balance that would have required a balanced budget amendment to be passed, but would have raised the debt ceiling. what do we hear from the other side? intransigence. who is refusing to compromise? sounds to me like the other side is refusing to compromise. i have with me my distinguished colleague from utah. i'd like to hear his thoughts on where the fault lies and where we could come to if we were to compromise to try to find an agreement. mr. lee: mr. president, a number of us, myself included, have been arguing since january, ever since we arrived here and were sworn in in this
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very room, that the national debt i a permanent problem. the almost $15 trillion that we now owes a nation is permanent. it's going to take a long time to pay off. there are people who are not yet old enough to vote, there are people who will be born in a few years who are not even here who will one day have to assist in paying off that debt. now, the fact that this is a long-term problem means that it requires a long-term solution. that's why we've been saying all along that we ought not to raise the debt limit again. extending our national debt by another $2.5 trillion more or less, without a permanent solution in place. herein lies the problem. it's difficult or impossible for one congress to come up with a set of budget numbers that will necessily bind future congresses. we can come up with a plan to cut $2 trillion or $3 trillion over a 10 or 15-year period but
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if future congresses don't want to go along with that they can find a way out of that. this has happened again as we've en with gram-rudman-hobblings, with the pay-go rules. congress is a living, breathing waiver unto itself. we need a permanent solution and this is why we settled on the need for a balanced budget amendment. as my distinguished colleague, the junior senator from kentucky has just pointed out, there is no intransigence in our position. those of us who identify with the republican party, those of us who it -- who identify with the tea party, we were sent here with a mandate by the voter, a mandate that says the federal government is too big and too expensive. now, resistance to this message from the other side of the aisle as vehement as that resistance may be, is not genuine if what it says is that this instance, insistence for a balanced budget amendment is itself reflective
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of an unwillingness to compromise. there are myriad opportunities to compromise within that general framework. we've offered that. we've extended that. republicans have now submitted no fewer than two bills that have passed the house of representatives to address the debt limit issue. both of which have stopped dead in their tracks over here without further opportunity. most importantly, without a response by the democratic party this the senate or otherwise. so if tre is either party in this discussion that is refusing to compromise, it's not ours. if there is any group that has failed to offer solutions, it cannot be described as the tea party movement. i ask my colleague, the junior senator from kentucky, do you see any -- any element within the tea party movement, any element within the republican party thats unwilling to compromise or wanting to block just for the sake of blocking? mr. paul: no, from going to
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hundreds of tea party rallies d grassroots rallies with voters across america, what i see is they want what's best for america. i don't think they really particularly care whether it's a republican plan or a democrat plan, they want what's best for america. but they want a solution. and the problem with the debate here in washington is all of the proposals seem to want to add more debt. we have $14 trillion worth of debt, and bothhe republican and the democrat proposal, we're going to add $7 trillion to $8 trillion more in debt. what i think the folks in the tea party and those who are concernedbout passing this debt along to their kids and grandkids want, they want us to spend less. i think a great contrast and what illustrates the problem here is that spending is going up 7% a year. nobody is really talking about cutting that spending. they're cutting about the rate of growth of that spending. there's a new plan out called the one penny plan. it would actuall have real cuts of one penny on every dollar spent. the other side pulls their hair and says, oh, you're so rad
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calf. we say we just want to cut one penny out of every dolla of government spending. is that radical? so the president has said it's a dysfunctional place. he is right in that sense. but i think some of the dysfunction comes from the hypocrisy or the other side not really listening. for example the balanced budget amendment. they say polls show routinely 75% of americans are for it. and routinely about 14% of americans seem to be approving of this body. so the question i would have is maybe it's that we're not listening well enough. maybe we're not doing what the people want. mr. lee: that certainly apprs to be the case. and it's a reminder to us of the fact that no matter how much we might be tempted at times to demagogue this issue, no matter how tempting it will be for certain members of this body to cast blame elsewhere, they cannot escape one simple fact, which is that the american people are demanding more.
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they are demanding that we spend less. they're demanding that we stop this barbaric practice of perpetual, msive-scale deficit spending. why? because it erodes individual liberty, it takes mey that people have not yet made and spends it and obligates them to repay it in some casesefe they're old enough to vote, in other cases before they're even born. and so we need a permanent solution. when we put something in the constitution, it serves as a permanent reminder of the fact that we as a people have made a decision and we're going to move forward. not everybody will necessaly agree as to how best we should move forward having made that decision. but the american people overwhelmingly to the tune of 75% support the idea that we should amend the constitution to restrict congress' deficit spending power. mr. paul: i think the oth thing when people talk about
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washington being dysfunctional and they are ups with what's going on in washington, i think one of the things that upsets people is hypocrisy. people who say one thing and do another. and, you know, iteally is, that's the sad state of affairs -- sad state of affairs. people run on one idea and then they completely change their ideas. the president was a u.s. senator. he spoke on this floor and here are his words in 2006. the fact that we are here today debating raising the america's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. he was sort of pointing fingers. everybody is pointing fingers. it's someone else's fault. i call that the empty partisanship but his conclusion voting to raise the debt limit would send a bad signal to our leaders that they're doing the right thing. i've often said there is no objective evidence that washington or congress is spending your money wisely. the pentagon says they're too big to be audited. can't balance their books. there was $100 billion
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unaccounted for in the becoming year. $5illion that the g.a.o. sound. duplicate programs. 82 different programs training workers. could we n maybe deal with one federal program training workers instead of 82 different ones doing the same thing? but this is it. the president said that raising the debt ceiling would be a mistake but now that he's president he's changed hisind. the hip hypocrisy of that is whi think makes americans unhappy. the president said the same thing on war. he said no president should unilaterally go to war without congressional authority and here we are at war in libya with no vote in congres he says he has a piece of paper from the united nations. we didn't elect the united nations. we have a constitution and it requires those things beebated in congress. people are unhappy because we're not doing the people's business. we haven't had a budget here in 800 days. do you know what? it's against the law. it's against the law not to have
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a budget. we haven't had a budget in 800 days but the budget law says we should have a budget every year. we're supposed to match our appropriations bills with the budget. we're not doing it. the american people are unhappy. we are dysfunctional but we're nodoing the people's business. but we're also, we've become profligate spenders, spending money that we don't have. and really, i think we risk great dangers. and i would ask the question to the senator from utah is, what's the answer? how do we get out of this when we seem to be so far apart and even on both sides we don't seem to be tackling the issues in a way that would cause or allow for significant cuts in spending? mr. lee: i have a friend named ron mcmill lynn, lives in my hometown of alpine, utah, and he's the author of a number of books dealing with business negotiation, dealing with trying to figure out how you can get to
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compromise. the presiding officer: the time has expired. mr. paul: can we have an extension of two minutes to finish our thoughts? mr. durbin: i don't object as long as this side i given an additional two minutes. mr. paul: thank you. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: and in that series of books, the crucial conversation line of books, one of the things he encourages people to do is to find whatever common ground they can reach. i think there is common ground among the american people generally that we should balance our budget. not everyone agrees about how we balance the budget, what should be cut, but they do agree that we should balance it. that being the case, that's where we ought to focus our efforts, is on amending our law of laws, that 224-yr-old document that has fostered the development of the greatest civilization the world has ever known. change it again to improve it, to restrict congress' borrowing power. the plan proposed by the democrats that's now about to come before us puts our budgeting process on autopilot, doesn't require another bug for
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two years -- her to budget for tw -- another budget fortwo yeae to fund itself without additional debate in congress. this is wrong, thiss not the right approach, i object to it. for that reason, i, alo with my other republican colleagues, are prepared to vote on this and vote no on this right now. we are not the ones delaying this vote. mr. paul: mr. president, i would say that what americans don't like is empty partisanship. that's what's going on today. the democrats are standing up and beating their chest and saying, "republicans won't let us have a vote." it's untrue. i've offered to have the vote. you've seen the objection here before your own eyes. they won't vote on this. let's dispense with the ety partisanship, let's move forward and have a vote. and if they would let us have one amendment, an amendment that would gradually balance the budget over seven to eight years, i'll vote for their proposal and i'll ensure enoh votes that it will ps. thank you, mr. president. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: before yielding to the senator from north carolina,
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i would like to note that last night, the two senators who just finished their colloquy, had an opportunity to vote for the boehner plan which required a constitutional balanced budget amendment and both senators lee and paul are registered as having voted to table the boehner approach which include that ruirement for a mr. presid? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to give a voice to minnesotans, to relay their thoughts on how congress should resolve this impasse and raise the debt ceiling to avoid a default. on wednesday i received an e-mail from a constituent in st. louis park, my home towfnlt this e-mail reads, "dear senator, i am a republican. i am a minnesotan. i am a small business owner. i am considered to have a high income relative to the average american. here's my request: please work together to get this debt limit impasse settled."
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on thursday i received this e-mail from a man in bloomington. he writes, "i am a small business man in the middle of a fund-raising effort. the concern over the debt ceiling has caused all the angle investors to put off any discussion of investment until they know what is going to happen. this has stopped my ability to raise funds which will lead to a new -- two new high-quality jobs in minnesota. i support a simple bill that increases the debt limit to get us through the 2012 elections as has been done hundreds of times before." yesterday i received an e-mail from a couple also. "we are retired small business owners who are watching our very, very conservative retirement account drop and plunge due to the inability of congress to come up with a plan for the debt ceiling. we trust your judgment as a senator, but plead with congress and the senate to come up with a
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solution. we absolutely cannot afford to see our retirement savings sink again like they did in 2008." and it's not just individual citizens. i received a letter from dakota county's administrator. reads in parkts "if the federal government does not resolve its fiscal issues in a timely and responsible manner, it will drive up costs to taxpayers here in dakota county. being able to borrow at the lowest possible rates has meant that our county's taxpayers have gotten mordz an better public facilities from libraries to senior housing to highway interchanges and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars for both property taxpayers and senior housing residents in the past several years alone. the city of chaska reached out to my office explaining that they are planning to sell debt in august to fund a street reconstruction program and refund their water treatment plant. if congress fails to act, these
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projects will come at a much higher cost to residents of chaska. i received a particularly compelling e-mail yesterday from a woman from falcon heights. she wrote, "i'm writing again to say i support the president and realize a need to compromise. it is scary for a 66-year-old retired school teacher who has medicare and social security, scary is a default and what it would do to the economy." that's advice from sue. sue gets t she gets that congress's failure to act may have a direct impact on her. but the impact is really for the whole economy. and sue is asking for us to compromise. and compromise we have. let me make one thing clear. leader reid's plan is a compromise. let me make another thing clear.
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house speaker boehner's plan is a tea party plan. harry reid's plan is a true compromise. it contains all spending cuts and zero revenues. during these debates, there have been lots of ratios floating around. senator conrad, the budget chairman, proposed a balanced and sensible flan had a one-to-one spend cut to revenue ratio. personally, i like that approach. president obama was negotiating a 4-1 or even 5-1 spending cut to revenue ratio. in the reid plan, there's no ratio. it's 100% cut cuts zero revenue. secondly, will contains dollar-for-dollar spending cults to match the debt ceiling increase. this is exactly what the republicans have been asking
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for. yesterday, this morning i learned that 43 of my republican colleagues have signed a letter to leader reid signaling their opposition to his proposal. why? well, they say that the savings from winding down the wars in iraq and afghanistan don't count. specifically, they say that these savings are -- quote -- "a widely ridiculed accounting gimmick that breeds cynicism." unquote. yet all but three of the 43 senators who signed this letter voted for the ryan budget on may 25 this year. that budget counted the same drawdowns as almost identical in savings. so those savings were legitimate enough to secure their support for the ryan budget but not
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legitimate enough to secure their support for leader reid's debt ceiling compromise. and here we are on the precipice, and suddenly they've done a 180-degree turn. either these savings count or they don't. you can't have it both ways. so we are proposing exactly what republicans have been saying that they want. yet instead of accepting this deal, they're using what precious time we have left to push forward with their agenda, and it's not even their agenda. it's the tea party agenda. their radical agenda is a wolf in sheep's clothing. last night we voted down speaker boehner's plan which requires the passage of a balanced budget constitutional amendment, a balanced budget amendment sounds, on its face, sensible, but in reality all of the
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current house proposals for a balanced budget amendment would have disastrous consequences for our nation. a balanced budget constitutional amendment would do permanent damage to our social safety net by slashing spending to 18% of g.d.p. that's what they all propose. we haven't had a spending ratio that low since 1966. and today's america is very different than 1966. we have a much older population. today we have a higher percentage of people drawing on social security and medicare benefits, more than ever before. health care costs are 15% higher, even during president reagan's 10-year spending average, 28% of g.d.p. what would an 18% cap really mean? let's use the republican study committee's budget proposed in april as an example. a budget like theirs is roughly
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what we would expect if we capped spending at 18% of g.d.p. their budget cut non-defense discretionary funding by 70% by 2021. like the ryan plan, the republican study committee's budget ended medicare as we know it, changed it into a voucher program and raised eligibility to 67. but it did it more quickly. their budget raised the social security retirement age to 70. it resulted in important programs like food stamps and medicaid getting cut by 50%. the republican study committee budget was the ryan budget on steroids, and i'd like to remind you of what happened to it on the house floor. this is an interesting story. because this story shows you just how extreme this budget was.
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most house republicans didn't actually want such a harmful draconian budget to be the official house budget. but many of them wanted to go on record to brag to their tea party support theirs they had slashed $9 trillion in federal spending p. so they scheduled a vote just as soon as democrats would vote it down for them and then they could just blame the democrats. well, the majority whip steny hoyer had an idea. moments before the vote, he asked democrats to vote "prese "present." this would leave the onus squarely on the republicans to vote it up or down. chaos erupted in the house. as republican the republica thep realized what would happen. too many votes had been passed in favor of the republican budget. the republican leadership got autumn inform their members to
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switch from "yes" to "no" and in the entdz 119 republicans voted in favor and 120 against. crisis averted. that's how bad this plan was. and a balanced budget amendment that caps spending at 18% would essentially do exactly the same thing. this is a perfect example of political posturing. we voted down speaker boehner's plan last night for that very reason. his plan wasn't about finding a real solution, it was all about political posturing. if it became law, it would subject americans to a very scary republican study committee reality. house republicans have shown that they don't really want that. the american people definitely don't want 5. the american people have clearly said that they want compromise. they want an honest effort to
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meet in the middle. sue from falcon heights is one of them. leader reid has responded to the pleas of the american people by offering us a sensible compromise. i urge my colleagues to be statesmen for the sake of the country. please, come to the table. we are trying to work with you. for the sake of the country, the clock is ticking. thank you, mr.rought out in the debe. when washington says it's going to cut spendin it's untruthful with the american public. because both the boehner bill and the reid bill increase discretionary spending over the next 10 years by one of them 30 billion and the other
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$832 billion. how is it that we can with a straight face in this body talk about a cut when in fact we're going to -- and c.b.o. says we're going to actually increase the spending in the discretionary accounts over the next 10 years nearly a trillion dollars. and you've heard the debate in the house, in the senate of a sput. and of course, that goes to what the heart of the probl is in our country. is words get twisted around to the advantage of the politicians, but to the disadvange of the american citizens. we are in trouble financially. most people agree with that. we have programs that are in difficult straits. as a matter of fact, they're broke. they're not just in dficult
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stits. here's the ones that are broke. medicare part a trust fund, worst case scenario, this year, 2016. that's the fund that solves and ys for hospitalizations for our seniors. now, we've heard a lot of statements said about medicare. the average medicare recipient paid $130,000 into medicare. the average medicare recipient takes $350,000 out. how long do you think that can continue? how long can we continue to tell seniors that we can continue a program based on its utilization rates, based on its briermt rates, based on the tax rates, that has a $220,000 difference between what goes out in benefits and what comes in? it's broke. medicaid is broke.
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the reason it's broke, because the states are broke trying to take care of it. we mandate what they must do, and yet the states are choking on medicaid. and we're choking on matching the amount of dollars. and under the affordable care act, it is now estimated 25 million more people will go to medicaid. so it's broke. the census. it was broke before it started. cost twice what it did 10 years ago. $8 billion more than what was estited. fanny and freddy, we know they're broke. $190 billion you have now committedor to pay to get them out of the hock. congress created that. $190 billion and that is where we are today. it's going to be $300 billion or $400 billion that we willave to pay. social security. people say it's not broke.
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we have $2.5 trillion worth of i.o.u.'s. the fact is that that money's gone, congress stole it, spent it on other things and now we lack the ability to go into international financial markets to borrow that money to put that trust fund whole. so why do we need to reform social security? so we can make sure it's there in the future. what we did know is in 2032 now, according to the trustees that everybody on social security will only get 77% of what they're promised and every year after that it will decline. so that when my kids are on social security, they will get about 40% of what the average social security recipient gets now. and we know we can fix it and we know we can fix it and make it sustainable forever. but we won't do that because that's politically difficult. the u.s. post office is bleeding every day. yet we haven't fed it.
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we're going to do a gimmick to buy it some time. but the fact is, is we've set it up under a system when they negotiate labor contracts under e arbitration system they can't consider the financial health of the post office. that would be like paying somebody to mow your grass and saying they'll set the price on it, and you can't negotiate what the price is. and yet there going to lose $8 billion to $10 billion this year and more every year going forward. and yet we've not fixed it, not done anything. cash for clunker absolute, when you look at the dollar and the homebuyer program, new homebuyer program, they actually had a negative effect on the economy. that's what the studies show now. so we blew all through all that money. the highway trust fund. what is used to build highways and roads and bridges in our country is broke. we're looking for $13 billion to try to make it whole and all we
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did was transfer the last three years to that, rather than reform it, we didn't do anything about it. the new government-run health care programs. here's what we know. is the new studies show that over half of the employers in this country will drop their insurance for the people who presently have insurance at work. hundreds of billions of dollars of additional taxpayer money are going to be required to subsidize t exchanges that those people are going to go into. because the penalty for dropping somebody's insurance is economically too low to kp employers from doing that. so we have all these programs that are broke, and we have a discussion about the debt ceiling, but we're not talking about what the real problem is. is this government is twice the size it was 10 years ago. twice as big. and it would be great if all of it was constitutional, it could
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be great it was if it was all effective, if it was efficient and it would be great if we could afford it. but the fact is we're where we are today with $1.6 trillion deficits because we can't afford the government we have. and so we've not concentrated on the very areas where we can find mutual agreement, we've had three bartisan bills in here where wve cut money, gnificant money, a billion here, $5 billion here, $7 billion here, go through the senate with vast majority votes only to go nowhere. because the allowance for the deba on the underlying bills was stopped. the bills were pulled. so what do we do? well, the first thing we do is we look at what the problems are. what are the problems? we have a hundred different programs with a hundred sets of bureaucracies for surface transportation alone. why do we do that?
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why haven't we fixed it? that's a question the american people ought to be asking. we have 82 programs to improve the quality of our teachers run by the federal government across seven different agencies. only one of them is the department of education. why are we doing that? where is the assessment of how well they work? where is the metrics to say we should be spending this money in this way because we're getting return? not one of them has a metric on it. not one of them has ever been measured of whether or not it's effective. we have 88 economic development programs in four agencies for which we spend $6.8 billion and we have another 100 economic development programs in six other agencies for which we spent another $4 billion and not one of them has ever been measured to see does it improve economic activity. and if in fact it does, why do we have 188? separate agencies to speculate economic development. i mean this isn't complicated
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stuff. it's common sense. every american other than the congress would fix that. we have 56 programs to teach financial literacy to the american people. first of all, i'd question whether not we ought to be teaching anybody financial literacy as a government when we run so poorly. but if in fact we do, why do we have 56 and, oh, by the way, not one of them has ever been measured to see if it effectively teaches somebody financial late reas. we have 47 job training programs, cost $18 billion a year, nine different agencies, nine different sets of bureaucracies, and all of them but three overlap with the other. that's according to the government accountability office. why? why would we do that? we have 18 programs for food for the hungry. that's something we all want to be involved in.
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18? why 18 sets of bureaucracies? how well are they working? are they effective? could w do them better? the question hasn't been been asked by congress. we have homeless programs for both prevention and assistance, 20. six different agencies. so you have 20 different sets of bureaucracies that are designed to do the same thing. disaster response and preparedness, inside fema alone , inside fema alone we have 17 different programs. inside that one ancy which is part of the department of homeland security. i asked the question why? why has it been a priority for us to work on those? why would you do? a senator: would the senator be willing to yield for a colloquy? it may surprise the senator, i hope not. but it might surprise some people listening to this.
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mr. kerry: to hear from this have side of the aisle a lot of people here have enormous respect for what the senator has been talking about and fighting for and what he has achieved. and i might add he is one of those courageous senators who has come together in the last months, working months as part of the so-called gang of six, to try to bridge the gap here. and see if we can't find a way forward. and as i listened to him, there's an enormous amount of common sense in the questions that he's asking. these are questions all of us need to join into, and we need to join into them in a process that allows us to be able to fairly and in a balanced way work on the grand bargain, as you call it, the big fix. now, i'd ask the senator, because i think a lot of americans listening to this debate -- i've been listening to it somewhat on the floor, somewhat back in the office --
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and i think people have got to be saying to themselves, these guys are kind of talking past each other or something's being missed here, because you hear this side, se things sound reasonable, you hear reasonable things over here. so people say what's hanging up this process? why is the entire country being held hostage here? so i'd like to help my colleague if he' kind of help us bear down on what we need to do here. and i'd ask him if it isn't fair and accurate to say that the so-called gang of six -- terrible name, think, maybe we call them the g-6 -- came together with annderstanding that we needed balance in the approach to satisfy both sides and build a critical mass. and that balance required cuts. you have to put the big items, the big-ticket items on the table. that means fixing social security, reforming it for the long term, medicare, medicaid,
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unsustainable on the current paths. defense, we've got to find a handle on some of the procurement and expenditures. but we also -- and i think the senator joined in this -- have to close some tax loopholes and have tax reform and find some level of revenue at an apprriate ratio that allows us to fix this. and that's where the problem has been, that there are a group of folks over in the house who have just insisted no revenue at all. and what i'd ask the senator, isn't it fair to say that the gang of six came up with aort of more balanced approach on which i believe the senate could find the ground of compromise? what senator reid has proposed i believe has cuts that republicans have supported. maybe not quite enough yet so maybe we can negotiate that. mr. coburn: let me reclaim my time. mr. kerry: absolutely. mr. coburn: there are absolutely no cuts in either what senator
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reid or speaker boehner proposed in the discretionary spending. the spending will rise $832 billion over the next two years -- ten years in the discretionary accounts. now, only in washington is that a cut. and, quite frankly, i'm willing to work with my colleagues. i've been out there. i say we have to move and eliminate some of tse loopholes, that we have to reform the tax code. i'milling to take the heat from my side on tt. i don't have any problem. what i'm not willing to take any more is a senate that won't work on the details of the specific problems. and what i'm trying to do is to outline where the problems are. where is the -- and we didn't do it when we were in charge either, senator kerry. there's been a failure of leadership in this country, in this body to attack the very problems. when we have 47 job-training
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programs and none of them are working well, because that's at we do know, because the very few times they've been looked at, they don't work, and we're spending $18 billion a year and we're not fixing them? the american people got to say, what is wrong with you all? so what -- what we have to do is we have to evaluate the effectiveness of every program in the federal government. have to limit the overhead costs of federal programs. 've put ideas out there. this is $9 trillion worth of cuts. not washington cuts, american cuts, money you're not going to end that's less than what we're spending today, not money you're not going to spend that you would have spent more the next year. this is real cuts. each one of these is in here backed up by t facts, not biased. you could disagree with where you would make the cuts but you can't disagree with the facts in here, because all the facts come from the congressional research
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service, the general accounting office, the office of management and budget, the president's budget in terms of his recommendations and why, and the c.b.o. we won't go there. my problem with the senate is we won't do our work. and we're as guilty. i don't -- this is not partisan to me. our country's future is at sta stake. and when we have two bills, one last night and one today, that is -- are literally lying to the american people when they say "cuts," i think it's unconscionable. mr. kerry: would the senator further yield? mr. coburn: wel let me finish if i will, i will give you a chance and i will yield back to you in a moment. mr. kerry: very good. mr. coburn: the fact is, we won't tell the truth to the american people. and the first truth is, if we'll be honest with them, they will understand what the necessities that will have to be brought forward in this country to be able to solve the problems. by denying what the problem is, we will never get the connsus in this country and the embrace
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of the american people to do what erybody in this body knows is eventually going to ve to be done. we will not have a medicare system that's like the medicare system we have today in five years. it is absolutely unsustainable. we will never be able to borrow the money to do it. we're going to get a debt downgrade no matter what we do. we will not be able to borrow the money. so rather than continue to be dishonest with the american people about the status of where we are, what we ought to do is embrace them and call for the very things that made this country great, the sacrifice o the citizens of this country to rebuild the potential for our future, to re-create a renewal in our country that embraces the things that made us great, a true free enterprise system with a limited government that will actually allow people to be rewarded for hard work, their own blood, sweat and toil and get that back and have a government take a fair share of that. on theup side, it should be more. on the downside, it should be less.
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i agree. the question is, is will we do it? will we continue a charade to the american people, continuing to tell them we're going to cut $800 billion, $900 billion out of the discretionary budget when, in fac we're going to increase it $832 billion? there's only $2 billion difference between senator reid's plan and speaker boehner's on discretionary spending and both of them are untruthful to the american people. both of them take the american people at a lap and say we can wink and nod at you and we can tell you something's that not true and we can walk out of here saying we spent less money. well, you're only going to spend less money than what we planned to spend, which was way too much in the first place, which was totally unsustainable as well. so let's just be honest with them. our deal is we don't have the courage to actually make the cuts that are listed in here. we don't have the courage to eliminate the waste. we don't have the courage to eliminate the duplication. why? because every one of these programs has a political backing and we're politicians.
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and -- and unfortunately, too often we're that instead of statesmen. it's time for us, both sides, to lead this country, to lead the country in a vision of here's the real truth of our problem. now let's have a debate about what should be the number-one priority. how much should we spend on defense? should we continue to allow contracts to go way overrun? should we continue to allow requirement creep in contracts, not just in defense, in homeland security, in h.h.s.? we have the same problems we have in defense, we have in all the other big agencies. we buy $64 billion worth of i.t. every year in this country. and $37 billionf it isasted, totally blown. why? and what have we done about it? not one thing. just go look at the high-risk
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list for the g.a.o. on i.t. every year that happens. the census bureau spe $600 million a device that never worked, there was no penalty for the company tt did it. we paid it anyhow. it was a cost-plus contract. and the reason it never worked is because we had requirement creep all the way through. we don't have any grownups making the purchases for this country. nobody with experience. so we're doing the wrong things at the wrong time. what we need to be doing is the right things at the right time for the right reason considering that we make sure we take care of those that need us to take care of them and then we demand participation of everybody else. we need to cap the total number of federal employees. not because we want to but because we don't have any other choice. and we don't have to let anybody go. just through attrition, we can downsize the federal government. we waste $15 billion every five
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years on managing properties in this country that we own that -- that -- they're vacant,nd yet we're spending that money on them. but we can't get a real property bill through. how -- how -- how valuable to us is $15 billion? we've got to start paying attention to the pennies and the nickels and the dimes, and we won't do it. unnecessary government printings, including us. i've been trying to get the elimination of this for three years. there's millions and millions and millions of dollars we can save by not printing the copies of this every day that nobody looks to except i did see my good friend from illinois actually look at a vote last night. but he could have got it on-line out of his blackberry. the point is we're tearing down trees to print paper we don't need. how much time do i have left? the presiding officer: the senator has 8 1/2 minutes
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remaining on the republican side. mr. coburn: all right. [inaudible] mr. kerry: mr. president, i would just ask the senator again, what i'm trying to do is help us get out of this predicament we've got where we've got a couple of days before the united states defaults. everything the senator has said is worthy of inquiry, but isn't it true that if we could get -- i mean, part of the reid proposal and the boehner proposal proposes a joint committee that will be structured somewhat like a base closing commission that will require the senate and the house to vote in expeditious fashion on these kinds of proposals, whatever the joint committee proposes, and if the joint committee doesn't succeed in proposing something, then hopefully either the gang of six or the simpson-bowles commission. so isn't it key now to resolving this crisis and not defaulting
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our ability to be able to come together on a sufficient trigger or some sufficient mechanism that guarantees we're actually going to deal with the things similar to what the senator is raising? mr. coburn: well, i would not disagree that those negotiations are going on as we speak. i'm not a party to them. i don't know if you are. i suspect the -- the -- the president pro tempore is, and we're not going to get to decide that. that's going to come to us for a decision. don't -- look, i worked a long number of months with my colleagues from the other side of the aisle. i put my name on a bill that really dsn't fix it but it was something to get us moving, it's better than where we are today. i agree with you. but what i would tell you is that's not good enough. we are not good enough yet to where we need to be if we're actually going to solve the problem. let me just finish going through this. we need to end no-bid contracts
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in this country. give you a spefic example. before he left here, senator lemieux got through the business bill prescreenin of payments on medicare payments so that we look -- rather than we pay them and then go chase the fraud, we got through a bill that required the center for medicaid services to put i a program to loo to see if they ought to pay the bill. and what did they do? they signed a cost-plus contract for $77 million with a firm that's never done that before and didn't take a particularred-price contract from firms that have already done it before. tell me how we let that happen, and yet it happened. and when we had testimony in our committee, they said it was a fixed-price contract tonal write back and say it wasn't a fixed-price contract. we need some common sense in our
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government. i'll finish this up real quick. we need to disclose the text and cost of legislation prior to passage. we need to identify duplicati government programs. we've done that. that's in here. there's hundreds and thousands of them throughout the federal government. we need to eliminate them. we need to mandate congressional oversight. that's where our leaders, i think, have failed on both sides. they haven't mandated the committee chairmen have to do the oversight that's requiredo solve this problem. we need to freeze the size of this government. we can't afford the government we have today. the debe is about what will happen in the future, what will be the revenue increases, what will be the spending increases. but nobody's talking about decreasing the size of the federal government. we can't afford this government. we can't afford to continue to spend the money that we're spending. so i'll close wh this, if we
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continue to be less than straightforward with the american people about what we're doing here, about the reid bill -- the reason i wanted to bate the boehner bill is i wanted to make this point on the boehner bill. when we call something a cut of $900 billion, just because the c.b.o. says we're going to spend $900 billion less than what we were planning to spend but still $832 billion more than that we are spending now, that's not a cut anywhere except in washington. and we ought to admit it. if that's the best we can do, the american people need to know that's the best we can do. but we can't play the games anymore. i have another colleague, i think, that would threubg >> next, "washington journal."
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after that, a senate hearing on proposed changes to the tax code. >> if you are asking me to try to be direct with you about a political situation, i am not going to be predictable in saying that the left is right or the right is always wrong, i will try to tell you what i honestly think. we may have points of disagreement but i will try to give you my honest assessment of what is taking place. >> tonightj on the controversial comments that resulted in his firing from national public radio. his new book is "muzzled." >> next, and that "washington journal." tea party express chairman amy kremer talks about the influence of the tea party on the debt ceiling debate. ceiling debate.


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